The disastrous start to the Rangers career of ex-Premier League star John Lundstram went from bad to worse as the midfielder picked up two cheap yellow cards and was sent packing v Alashkert.
The Armenian team are probably a poor Scottish Premiership level side and yet in that instant Lundstram made what should’ve been a routine Europa League victory even harder for his teammates.
It’s not just in the red card where Lundstram has been taking criticism; the midfielder was too lackadaisical, not committed enough for the Ibrox crowd and too often gave up possession or quite simply, got in the way.
It was the stuff of nightmares for Lundstram whose composure continued to shake with every misplaced pass, dodgy touch or failure to get the side up the pitch.
The midfielder spoke pre-match about learning a new role at Ibrox, but we also spoke about the need to overcome the pressures of the crowd and support by not hiding inside the jersey.
It is one which plenty before Lundstram have sought shelter within the confines of and unless he can puff his chest out and play with impetus even when things aren’t going right, it will continue to weigh heavy and Ibrox will not ease up on him.
Lundstram’s lack of concentration cost Rangers against Malmo in Sweden and against Dundee United in the Scottish Premiership but thankfully his blushes were spared this time around.
There’s some digging to do to get back onside with the Gers support but Lundstram is the latest in a long line of English Premier League players who struggle with the intensity of life at the Old Firm.
Now it might be quite harsh to be comparing him to some of those luminaries given his brief time in the game – Joey Barton and Shane Duffy status is not easily attained – but it says something that in recent seasons so many players have struggled with the step up.
For all the money and glamour in the Premier League, there are only a handful who can hold a candle against the Old Firm. Strip away the excess, and it’s decidedly tinpot.
From Brighton to Celtic proved a step too far for Shane Duffy – even with the shiny £2m loan fee and £25k per week wages [Sky Sports] – and similarly Lundstram may well have underestimated the jump from yoyo Sheffield United to global institution Rangers.
The fact the Old Firm operate in Scotland means there are well over 20 sides down south who can outspend them financially.
But the players who operate on this financial level as a general do not have the big club mentality of the elite sides in England which is required to be successful at Rangers or Celtic.
Not only this, but there is an arrogance that radiates from those down south which impacts their approach to life in Scotland but also deludes them to their own ability. See Barton as case in point.
It’s early days for Lundstram, but unless he can raise his commitment levels on the pitch, puff his chest out and work his socks off even when things aren’t going right, comparisons to the division’s biggest Premier League flops are only just beginning.
Rangers did manage to show some character to eke out the victory but the abject first half performance was embarrassing for a number of reasons.